A bookkeeping clerk is any individual who uses their strong mathematical and analytical skills to perform basic accounting tasks. Bookkeepers work for banks, schools, hospitals, businesses, accounting firms and government agencies. They may also be referred to as payroll, budget, billing, accounts receivable or accounts payable clerks.
Bookkeeping clerks are responsible for providing financial and administrative support to accounting staff, management and departments. They support efficient and accurate financial and administrative operations. Job responsibilities include receiving, verifying and recording invoices from vendors and clients. They perform data entry of invoices and record payments in accounting management information systems. They maintain listings and databases of accounts payable and receivable. They maintain the general ledger and reconcile general ledger accounts. They prepare electronic journal entries with appropriate supporting documentation. They assist with financial statement preparation by gathering data from bank reports, client records and the ledger system. Bookkeeping clerks provide customer service to internal and external clients. They occasionally work with auditors and management to review internal controls and processes.
Bookkeeping clerks must be proficient with accurately compiling deposits, reports and reconciliations for multiple accounts. They must know how to retrieve, sort and process email and post office mail in a timely and efficient manner. Bookkeeping clerks must know how to complete deposit transactions and process daily settlements using software. Job candidates must demonstrate consistently strong attention to detail, organization effectiveness and mathematical abilities. They must possess a proactive work ethic and the ability to manage deadlines and priorities in busy environments. Most employers expect bookkeeping clerks to have at least two to three years of experience with QuickBooks, Quicken and Microsoft Excel. They will need the ability to multi-task with good follow-through to satisfactory resolution.
A bachelor’s degree in accounting is usually preferred, but a two-year degree in bookkeeping with experience is an appropriate substitute. A bookkeeping degree will teach students the various terms and methods needed to function as a bookkeeper in a dynamic work environment. Students will learn how to continually track incoming and outgoing funds to ensure that financial records are properly maintained through ledgers. A bookkeeping degree curriculum may include classes on finance, statistics, mathematics and accounting practices. Program courses may also cover record-keeping systems, accounting software operation, posting transactions in accounts and the General Accounting Principles and Practices (GAAP). Bookkeeping degrees will focus on the technical, analytical and administrative skills needed for entry into the accounting field.
Most bookkeepers voluntarily seek certification through the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. Their Certified Bookkeeper program is the standard credential for every type of accounting clerk. In order to take the exam, candidates will need at least two years of full-time experience, which may be obtained before or after passing the exam. Candidates must pass a four-part exam that is available at national exam centers. After passing, they must sign a Code of Ethics. The certification exam covers adjusting entries, error corrections, bank reconciliations, payroll operations, depreciation, inventory, internal controls and fraud prevention.
Bookkeeping clerks tend to have a few qualities in common, such as enjoying crunching numbers, critically thinking to solve problems and independently making decisions. They must have a sense of urgency, be service oriented and have excellent communication skills.